Jewelry-makers should learn terminology of basic jewelry-making components and techniques to work effectively with friends, customers and suppliers.
Jewelry toggles make up one category of many different jewelry closures for handmade artisan jewelry, mass-market costume jewelry and fine jewelry. While toggle clasps definitely fasten jewelry, they can also enhance jewelry appearance.
What is a jewelry toggle?
A jewelry toggle is a set of two pieces: a jewelry loop and a jewelry stick. The jewelry loop is attached to one end of your unfinished jewelry; the jewelry stick attaches to the other end. The jewelry stick gets pushed through the jewelry loop, then turned so it rests longways against the loop, gravity holding the two components in place. A skin-tight jewelry piece without any slack will not last long -- this style closure is made to have some slack.
Toggle clasps come with a bit more risk than lobster claw clasps. However, many jewelry fans seem to regard jewelry toggles as more fashionable than lobster claw clasps. Jewelry closed with toggles may fall off the body if they are made with too much slack; sometimes the toggles may come undone when the tension on the jewelry is relaxed.
Fancy toggles will often be used at the front of a necklace as a visual centerpiece -- especially fancy shaped toggles or toggles with addition decorations.
Jewelry toggles come in many different shapes: round, oval, square, diamond, heart-shaped, floral, stirrup, etc.
A toggle is most secure when it cannot easily slip back through the loop accidentally. The widest opening of the toggle loop must still be smaller than the shortest distance from your anchor point (often a ring soldered on or cast midway a metal toggle stick) to the end of the stick. The toggle loop must also be big enough to accommodate the smallest beads on the end attached to the toggle stick. The stick must be pulled through the loop before it can be turned to rest against the toggle loop. Many jewelry pieces with toggle clasps will have beads graduated in size from the larger beads at the center, where they are most visible, to the smaller beads at both ends. Toggles that are light with respect to the center beads will shift to the top as a bracelet rotates due to gravity. A heavy toggle will help a bracelet to hang comfortably, with the toggle loop underneath the wrist.
In pieces made with jewelry chain, you may see chain end caps soldered onto the chain and toggles connected with link locks or soldered jump rings. Unsoldered chain pieces will often use open jump rings, split rings or link locks. Jewelry designers will usually fasten toggles to bead wire projects using flattened crimps. Some designers favor clam shells or bead tips to make the transition to the jewelry closures for bead wire projects and fiber projects such as knotted silk jewelry. Inexpensive leather or fiber pieces may be knotted directly onto the toggle pieces with overhand knots.
Your "stick" may be as simple as a button with a shank used with a loop of seed beads on bead wire. Your loop may be quite fancy, with "expandable" toggles of several rings attached together. The rings on both the toggle loop and toggle stick should be firmly attached. Toggle sticks with spiral patterns seem to be susceptible to bending more than many other designs.
Toggle in the United States will often be made of one of the following materials:
Silver: Thai silver, sterling silver (.925 silver)
Brass, usually plated with gold, silver, copper, antique copper, antique brass, gunmetal/black nickel and imitation rhodium
Many of these materials are available in different surface textures: shiny, matte, brushed, etc. Crystals, cubic zirconia and gemstones may decorate toggles of the more expensive metals.
The jewelry designer's unique sense of design and style will define the jewelry aesthetics and the the possible toggles for a jewelry piece. Fortunately, toggles are available in a wide range of prices, shapes and materials.
Paul Brandon knows toggles and writes for OhioBeads.com, which sells bulk jewelry chain and jewelry findings (in sterling silver, gold-filled, antique brass, antique copper, gunmetal, imitation rhodium, silver-plate, gold-plate).
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